From where I stand: "Young women should invest in their business to be independent like me"

Suzanne Ilambe (60) has been a palm oil seller at Mont Ngafula Market, in Kinshasa, for the past 22 years. Mum to 4 children, her business has allowed her to live and feed her children, yet difficulties in the market do not come scarce. To ensure the security of her income, add value to what she does, and continue to provide for her children, Mrs. Ilambe has expressed her desire to follow in her friends’ footsteps and officially register her business, following a dissemination campaign by UN Women, in partnership with CAFCO (Permanent framework of dialogue of the Congolese woman): "I will go on Monday".  


Souzanne Ilambé (60), palm oil seller at Mont Ngafula market
Suzanne Ilambé (60), palm oil seller at Mont Ngafula market. Photo credit: UN Women/Yulia Panevina

I work from sunrise to sunset, to try and make ends meet, but every day it gets harder to finish my stock. My oil barrel costs me 30 USD and is sometimes very difficult to sell. It takes me 3 days to one week to empty it. 

The economy is difficult to navigate, and the value of the dollar (USD) keeps changing, creating many obstacles for the women who sell at the market. We are also exposed to violence. During the morning, when we go on foot to obtain the different materials and set up our stand, we fear being aggressed. Then, in the market, we may be attacked for our money. 

My business allows me to live and be independent. Registering it means no longer having to avoid controls and being safe. I work every day to make sure my children can get an education, be independent. Young people are the future, they should stop banditry, and women should avoid early pregnancy; they should invest in creating businesses, to become independent like me."

UN Women, in collaboration with CAFCO, is advocating and helping women across the DRC obtain the registration certificates for their businesses. By registering their business, women have access to otherwise unreachable market information and security. In the gender office of the town hall of Mont Ngafula in Kinshasa, twenty women who volunteered to formalize their economic activities received, on October 5th, 2022, their official registration documents in the commercial register.

sdg 5

These women’s stories of entrepreneurship show the importance of Sustainable Development Goal N°5, which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.